Triad Essay. *Learned about myself as a Teacher*

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1 Triad Essay *Learned about myself as a Teacher* Through doing the triads, I learned a lot more than I thought about my teaching. I was surprised to see how hard it is not to jump in and tell someone the answer to something shortly after they ve decided they cannot explain it. Besides this class, this is something I noticed in another class when we implemented a physical knowledge center in an early childhood classroom. In each instance, I struggled in the beginning to not immediately give in to the learner(s) saying Why does it do that or Tell me what is causing this to happen. When stepping back and looking at it, I was able to see how quickly I want to intervene and that once I noticed this, I could stop myself. This was definitely evident with the activity I choose to do because I caught myself sometimes saying too much. In my other class, when I worked with Pre-K aged students, we did bubbles and I remember answering questions instantly, without really allowing them to figure it out on their own. Something else that I kind of learned, but was more reinforced, was that when I am in the teacher position, I like to be engaged in the materials as well (but not in the way). While doing the triads, I found it useful for me to the handling the materials along side the learner so she could see someone else manipulating the Oobleck as well and note what was happening. With my particular content area science I did my triad differently than my peers. For example, with the language triad, it dealt with looking at sentences and finding out under what conditions a sentence used particular words. When comparing my triad with this one, I definitely did a more hands-on approach and it was necessary. In order to understand Oobleck and how it works, you must touch it. With language, to me, it is about using your prior knowledge of sentences and grammatical rules to decide why the sentences were set up that way (in our group s case). You also can make it hands on by writing and modifying sentences to figure things out. When comparing my triad to the math triad, it was similar to what I talked about above. Because I was the learner for the match triad, I was able to see how the teacher of that taught. This triad was more of thinking logically as well as visually to figure out how to arrange trees. It was somewhat hands on, because I

2 used paper pieces, but could really be a lot of mental work, whereas mine was all very hands-on. Throughout the triad, the biggest challenge was thinking of ways to stay engaged in the learner s thinking and journey through the triad. By this, I mean it was hard to think of things to ask or comments to make which didn t tell the learner directly what was going on with the Oobleck. While doing the plans, I noticed that they were all kind of the same because each time, I didn t want to give any specifics about the reasoning behind the Oobleck appearing to have to states solid and liquid. This ties in a little with what I talked about above with trying to not to jump in right away and give answers away. The planning helped to avoid doing that, but it was a little difficult. To me, these difficulties somewhat present a challenge and show that planning helps a lot in lessons. I ve heard some teachers talk about how once you ve been a teacher for a while, you sometimes just think of a lesson, but don t have to write it down. For me, I am a very visual person; therefore will need to write up lesson plans. Because of this, it is then good that I ve had practice writing plans for lessons the learners will ultimately guide. On page 172 of the text, Lindon defines passage of intellectual search a sustained conversation, led by the children s own questions, in which they work to make sense of an event or idea. I think that can somewhat sum up what occurred during our triads, and what I will be experiencing as a teacher. Before this class and the triads, as well as other classes I ve taken, I hadn t learned much about letting a child take the lead and planning lessons around what the child says and does. In my Early Childhood Curriculum class, we talked a lot about allowing the students to express their interests and following that. For example, if they become fascinated in where eggs come from, start a unit on that and all the students to guide where the unit goes. Doing this will ensure that the students needs, as well as interests, are being meet and honored within the classroom. *Learned about myself as a Learner* Being the learner was a much different position than the teacher, therefore offered a much different experience. While being the learner I was surprised to see how fun, yet challenging it was to

3 somewhat have free reigns to do the activities as I wanted, yet not have as much guidance because I guided my learning. I wasn t sure how I would feel about taking the lead when I was the learner, but I actually really enjoyed being able to try and figure out my math problem without being given clues, that might give it away instantly, or the answer straight up. I also was surprised to see how I was able to try and figure out my story problem. I am typically not the best at math and even though I didn t figure out my problem, until I got a fairly big clue, I still feel as though my strategies were effective. I also learned that I am a very hands-on person because I need to tear paper out to represent the trees in my story problems. I learned a lot about the different multiple intelligences (in my Expressive Arts class) and how students, at every age, will have certain intelligences they excel at and others which they might struggle in achieving. The triads allowed me to see that the visual/spatial intelligence is one I might be better at. My learning through the triads differed from my peers in several ways. When comparing mine to the language triad, I definitely used manipulatives more. My problem involved trying to arrange ten trees in five rows of four. I felt that I would not be able to do this without using some sort of manipulative which happened to be torn out pieces of paper. Also compared to the language triad, mine involved a lot of visual learning as well as use of my spatial awareness. The science triad was probably the one most similar to mine because it involved all hands-on learning. The difference between me as a learner and the science learner was the type of knowledge we were constructing. Throughout the semester, I have learned about the different types of knowledge physical, logical and cultural. I feel as though the learner in for the science triad was constructing more of physical knowledge initially, then logical. They were learning about the properties of the Oobleck, and then later trying to form a relationship between the Oobleck and conditions which made it turn to a liquid or solid. For me, my learning took place as I tried varying ways of arranging objects in order to produce a desired outcome. The only real challenge I had for this triad was thinking outside of the box. As the learner, I had to put ten trees into five rows of four. The five rows of four is what made me thinking more restrictive because I was stuck on trying to make traditional rows. I think, however, that it was good because as I worked through the

4 triad, I had to start thinking more outside of rows and how else I could make them. My thinking outside of traditional rows however didn t just happen, but rather occurred similar to how Lindon describes sustained shared thinking. When I began stumped, or was ready for another step or clue to be given, I talked with my teacher. The ideas and information she gave me in turn helped me to think differently and find new ways to look at my paper scraps to arrange them. This is that Lindon defines sustained shared thinking as communicative interaction between adults and individual children that support them to explore and understand events and ideas (175). By being the in learner shoes, I ve gained insight to many things which I can apply to my career as an early childhood educator. One of these is I ve been able to see what it is like to be the student who is guiding their own learning. In most of my classes here at UNI, it has not been student-led learning but rather sit and listen to lectures while taking notes. I feel as though this experience, with the triads, has opened my eyes to the benefits of child-led instruction. I also think that because I had the opportunity to be the learner I saw how I reacted and it is safe to assume that some of what I did and experienced will be what my students will experience. This is great because I will know so of what it is like to be in their shoes. In Paley s book, I know there was a part where she talked about being able to relate to her students because of her past experiences and this situation is similar to ours with the triads. *Learned about Learning* The triad experiences have allowed me to learn a lot in general about learning. One of these is that everyone learns differently. As discussed above, different people make sense of situations in their own individual ways. One reason for this is because individuals have different schemas for all of the things they ve encountered in their lives. Schemas, according to Lindon, are patterns of behaviors that are linked through a child-chosen theme of interest and from which a child explores in different situations (page 124). Because we have different ways of acting on objects and different ways of thinking, we will all learn in unique ways and make sense of experiences in different ways. This also goes along with a lot of what we discussed in Lindon about where we grow up, believes and values we grow up with and overall, the experiences we have which will ultimately

5 influence our learning throughout our lives. Another thing I learned about learning in general is the role of the teacher and their importance. For our triads, we as learner led the experiences, but the teachers had to be there to foster the learning. Before starting my education classes, I hadn t really thought about how the learners I was working with might be thinking or constructing their knowledge. Through the triads, I was able to see several different people (those at my table, as well as others around the room) learning and making sense of situations. In the above paragraphs I have talked some about how what I saw and learned through the observations and participation will help me as a teacher. Although I have stated this times before, I think watching other learners and being a learner allowed me to see how different people learn differently. In one of my texts, _Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice_, it talks about making curriculum effectives and steps to take to do this. One of these is to consider the developmental paths that children follow in determining the sequence and pace of learning experiences (45). I feel this is relevant to how I can use what I learned from the triads to use in my own teaching some day because although the classroom will be doing the same things, one must consider where the children are in terms of their development. Some children might have more knowledge on a particular subject, therefore be ready to advance. Others might be struggling or need more time grasping a concept, therefore changes or additional materials could be provided to meet students needs. This also applies to me being an early childhood educator. Although the triads took place with individuals similar in age to me, it still let me learn more about learners other than myself. On page 2 of the text, Lindon talks about being a reflective practitioner, which is an outlook for early years in which you are ready to think as well as to act and to be open to new ideas and approaches. These new ideas and approaches will include things found through research, but also include ways to meet learners needs. As an early childhood educator in a diverse classroom, I will constantly need to be evaluating my students (will be discussed later) and coming up with different approaches to teaching them and enhancing their learning. After watching and participating in the triads, I was able to make observations about the subject areas (which I also talked about in

6 preceding paragraphs). When thinking of math versus science versus language and so on, I typically would think science is more hands on than all of the areas. With the triads, I did see that other areas, such as math, could be just as hands on. I don t feel as though I could have worked through my math problem without physically manipulating something. I also think the subject matter affected learning if the learner was participating in an activity which wasn t their strong area. For me personally, I am much stronger at English and language arts than at math and could see this when I observed the language group (because I was able to figure out the language ones more easily than the math problem). I think this can also tie in with what I discussed previously about the multiple intelligences. Some people are more successful in the logical/mathematical area, therefore might excel in story problems and questions dealing with patterns (which I saw some other groups did). Others are better able to look at sentences and paragraphs and discover grammatical rules; therefore might excel in the verbal/linguistics intelligence. *Learned about Teaching* Through the triads, I ve learned a lot in general about teaching. One of these is that sometimes, teachers need to sit back and allow their students to take the lead. From my experiences in the elementary grades, I don t remember really having my learning led by things that interested me. I remember being given worksheets, assignments and other various tasks to complete either in the classroom or as homework. I think this isn t a very effective way of teaching because the students needs and interests are then not met. Paley s book _The Boy Who Would Be a Helicopter_ presents her ways of teaching students where the students were able to play and lead their learning in ways. With my particular triad which was science my learner basically played with the Oobleck and the other manipulatives. This definitely reinforced the importance of play with young children. On page 237 of Lindon s book, she defines play ethos an approach that stresses the crucial importance of children s play within their development. If I were to allow young children to play with the Oobleck, they would definitely be learning through their play. Something else I learned about teaching is how to develop questions to help guide a learner, but not give away everything they are trying to discover. Through the triad plans we completed, we had to develop questions and possible responses to

7 scenarios we might run into with our learners. This showed me the importance of teachers being able to plan for different ways a lesson might go. This is especially important because children s agendas can change quite frequently throughout the day and a teacher must be prepared for everything. Something else the triads have made me think about as far as teaching goes is being flexible and being able to think on your toes. For example, with my triad my learner had expressed interested in changing the temperate. For the first triad, I had not planned for that so I was able to incorporate it into the next triad. In the classroom, if a student decides they want to change a variable in an experiment you might have to think quickly about how you can make that possible so it can create a meaningful environment for a child. Especially for young children, if they are not able to do it right away, they might not be interested later on. When looking at subject matter, I think it will always affect teaching. The reason behind this is that some teacher themselves might be better at explaining one subject area over another and know how to better respond to one over another. For example, when it comes to math, it is one of my weaker subjects therefore I have a more difficult time explaining concepts. I think this can make a big difference in teaching. Content areas which come more easily might mean a teacher will be more confident in their teaching and answering questions. This can be the opposite if a teacher is less comfortable explaining a particular content area. *Connections Observations, Assessment, Learning, and Teaching* TEACHING OBSERVATIONS LEARNING ASSESSMENTS Above is how I feel those four words fit together in relation to one another. I have connected teaching and observations with double arrows because I think they both contribute to one another. As a

8 teacher works in the classroom, observations are always being made. Whether they be the different types of narratives, as we discussed in class, to long-term observations recorded throughout the semester, teacher will being doing observations constantly throughout their teaching careers. I think a great example of this is Paley s classroom overall. Paley is continuously assessing her students through their stories, play as well as the recordings she makes of their daily activities. The double arrow I used is necessary because from those observations, teachers can adjust or reflect on their own teaching. For example, a teacher might see through his or her observations that certain activities cause a child to become uneasy and uncomfortable (possibly activities involving social interaction). Because this teacher observed this, they can then modify their teaching by helping that student get settled into group settings and helping the child learn pro-social behaviors (which Lindon discusses in her text and how this is important to a child s time spent at school). The next connection I have made is an arrow between teaching and learning. I made this connection because obviously, teaching is connected to learning. From the triads, I have learned that teaching doesn t necessarily have tot be the teacher in front of the classroom. In my book _Basics of Developmentally Appropriate Practice_, it states that In and out of the classroom, young children learn best when they are actively involved. Because of this, that connection between teachers and learners can be great when teachers incorporate hands-on learning opportunities for students in their classroom. Also, in Lindon, it was talked about many times that children construct knowledge through meaningful experiences therefore teachers must do what they can to be sure their students are having the opportunity for these meaningful experiences. A double arrow between observations and learning was my next connection. I ve connected learning to observations because that is ultimately what teachers are looking at how their students are learning. The observations provide insight to what the students know, are learning and what they ve learned. For example, when a teacher observes the students throughout the entire school year, he or she can then look back at the observations to see what the child has learned and how they d developed. Observations serve as a very important tool to teacher, future teachers, the parents and the student in that they can create communication and help others to see where the student is at and what their behaviors are. Lastly on my diagram, I ve linked observations to assessment. In the text, _Basics of Assessment_, the author states that the most widely used

9 and accepted approach to assessment for young children is through observing systematically, studying work products, and eliciting responses (35). This then communicates that observations are an important tool in early childhood education. The observations we ve done in class, such as the descriptive narrative, can help us to assess our students. Through a descriptive narrative, recording the child s words and actions will show us what the child knows and can do in some cases. A video I watched in Early Childhood Curriculum showed a teacher participating in the students play as well as assessing them through her observations. She observed a particular child getting cups, spoons, and plates and so on based on different colors. Here, she was able to get a sample of what the child knew regarding colors. There are so many examples that can be given about observations as assessment but overall, it is an approach many teachers use and that I will use in the future. Based on all of the information in this section, I think it s safe to say that there really isn t a more important concept among the four I ve discussed observations, assessment, learning and teaching. They all work together in the classroom to help the teacher be more successful in their teaching and help to make the students experience as meaningful as possible. ***So I realized after I wrote all this, that the directions said connections I observed not connections in general, so I didn t want to erase all that. I will explain connections I saw below based on what I talked about above Within my triad groups, the connection between teaching and observations was the more apparent to me. This is so because as the teacher I, as well as the others when they were teachers, had to observe what our learners were doing and also had our observers notes to look over after the triads. Through these observations, we then gained ideas as to what we could add to the next triad to further the learners understanding of what was taking place. I think the triads also reinforced the idea that teachers do not always have to be in the students faces but sometimes can just sit back and observe what is taking place and intervene when necessary to help make things more clear. When it comes to the teacher and learner connection this was evident in how we as teachers interacted with the learners. With this particular experience, we as teacher were available when the learners needed guidance or questions answered. We were not constantly talking and lecturing about our

10 materials, but rather allowing them to explore. This is similar to what I talked about above about teacher s not always having to talk the entire time. In class, Dr. East said silence is not necessarily a bad thing and this was evident in the triads. I ve connected learning and observations in my above diagram and can connect this to our triads. What the learner did was recorded by the observer for the teacher s later use. Whether the learner talked aloud while doing their problem or was silent, the observer wrote what they said and what their actions consisted of. This is how learning and observations are connected the actions taken by the learner are what make up one s observations. Lastly, I feel as though the assessment came from the observations. For us in this experience, we used the notes from the observer, as well as what we gathered, to assess our learner s understanding of what they did. For example, with my learner, my notes from the first day indicated to me that the Oobleck was new to her; therefore she wasn t sure what was causing it to act the way it did. I did gather however several hypothesis from her and used those in later triads. This is the type of things we will do as early childhood educators. We will look at students work and our observations we ve made and use that to continue to help the children to develop. Overall, I feel as though once again, the four go together in such a way that one cannot occur without another.

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